Qype boosts team – competitors start to worry

After just announcing new funding, Qype, the pan-European local reviews site, is not wasting any time. It has just poached LastMinutes’ Sophie MacLaren and Emily van Lierop to be UK Marketing Director and Marketing Manager respectvely. Sophie has also been at Ticketmaster, the New York City Opera, Brazen and Spin Media PR agencies. Emily joins directly from koodos, a UK fashion website. The new appointments come just a week after Qype announced it had secured an additional €8 million funding to help the company expand into new countries.

Meanwhile, I have already had one of Qype’s local reviews competitors (for there are many) ask me “what do you think we should do?”, referring to the newly supercharged Qype. WeLoveLocal chose to throw in the towel back in March (actually, that’s not quite right, they exited at probably just the right time). How long before the less well funded TrustedPlaces, Tipped and MyNeighbourhoods last? At least TouchLocal has £7m from Balderton to keep it going, but its sights seem trained on the business sector, not reviews of the lattes in the local cafe.

Now, when startups start asking journalists for advice, this is usually a bad sign. Flattering… but a bad sign. I put this to a old startup hand I know and his reply was so good I feel obliged to print it. It goes like this:

“Look into your heart. Work out if you are a gritty winner or a tourist. If you are a winner, dig in. Start selling. Focus your business down. Cut staff. Ramp revenues. Batten down the hatches. Find a niche angle. Focus. Make money. Build loyal client base. Then invest, very carefully, in the tech. Product innovate in a controlled fashion. Innovation, where innovation matters – nowhere else. Get some traction. Raise a small round. Win. If you are a tourist: Pack up early before leaving a hole in any creditor’s pockets. Find a job, whilst you still have time and a salary. Look after your staff – encourage them to do the same. Come back for Web 3.0.”

Good advice.